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Statement on the Commission on Conservation and Administration of the Public Domain.

October 18, 1929

COMMISSION ON CONSERVATION AND ADMINISTRATION

OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN

IN COOPERATION with Secretary Wilbur, I have now made a start at the selection of this Commission.

In order that each of the 11 important public land States may be represented and that there may be representatives from other sections of the country, I have decided to make the Commission approximately 20 in number, of whom 2 will be women. The following have accepted the invitations so far sent out.

Mr. James R. Garfield, Secretary of the Interior during Mr. Roosevelt's administration, who is to be the Chairman.

Of the general representatives Mr. George Horace Lorimer of Philadelphia, ex-Governor James P. Goodrich of Indiana, Col. W.B. Greeley, former head of the Forest Service, and Mr. Gardner Cowles of Des Moines, Iowa, have so far accepted invitations to serve.

As to representatives from the public land States the following have so far accepted:

California Elwood Mead

Montana I.M. Brandjord

Washington R.K. Tiffany

Arizona Rudolph Koechler

Colorado Chas. J. Moynihan

Nevada George W. Malone

Utah William Peterson

Idaho I.H. Nash

The purpose of the Commission is to study the whole question of the public domain particularly the unreserved lands. We have within it three outstanding problems:

First, there has been overgrazing throughout these lands, the value [p.334] of the ranges having diminished as much as 80-90 percent in some localities. The major disaster, however, is that destruction of the natural cover of the land imperils the water supply. The problem, therefore, in this sense is really a problem of water conservation.

Second, the question as to what is the best method of applying a reclamation service to the West in order to gain real and enlarged conservation of water resources.

Third, the Commission is free to consider the questions of conservation of oil, coal, and other problems that arise in connection with the domain.

I recently put forward some tentative proposals for consideration at the Governors' conference in Salt Lake City and a survey of public opinion and the views of responsible officials show that while three States seem generally opposed to the idea of the States taking the responsibility for conservation of grazing values by transfer to them of the surface rights, seven States are in favor of this idea with some secondary modifications. Public opinion in those States generally seems to support the tentative suggestions for reorganization of the Reclamation Service. The suggestions, however, were entirely tentative and the whole subject is open to the Commission.

I have recently had opportunity to confer with the chairmen of the Senate and House committees covering public land and irrigation, and they have expressed their warm approval of the creation of this Commission and have undertaken to introduce the necessary legislation to provide funds for its work.

Note: Biographical information on each of the named members was released with the statement. For the President's message to the Governors' conference in Salt Lake City, see Item 185.

Other members named later were Perry Jenkins of Wyoming, Huntley Spaulding of New Hampshire, E. C. Van Petten of Oregon, Wallace Townsend of Arkansas, Francis Wilson of New Mexico, and Mrs. Mary Roberts Rinehart of Washington, D.C.

Herbert Hoover, Statement on the Commission on Conservation and Administration of the Public Domain. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207950

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